AT&T may not have gotten T-Mobile USA, but it’s still after more spectrum. The company on Tuesday announced plans to acquire the U.S. retail operations of a carrier called Atlantic Tele-Network (ATNI) for $780 million.
Under the deal, AT&T would get wireless spectrum licenses, network assets and 585,000 customers in rural areas of six states-- Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Ohio and Idaho.
ATNI operates under the Alltel name in the U.S. through a subsidiary called Allied Wireless. The majority of Alltel’s assets and subscribers were bought by Verizon in 2009. AT&T was reported to be interested in picking up Alltel’s wireless assets at the time.
While AT&T has avoided larger deals since regulators blocked its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile last year, it entered into more than 40 smaller spectrum deals in 2012, according to CNet.
ATNI CEO Michael T. Prior said Alltel customers “will benefit from access to a nationwide 4G network, a larger device selection, additional retail locations and a broader range of product offerings.” That could mean the iPhone is coming to its rural subscribers.